The posts about the literature of serial murder I made last week brought to mind this poem of mine, which is in my book Traffic and Murder.
You come out of the court wearing handcuffs,
shirt and trousers. You look like Richie
Cunningham, as one newspaper will observe. They’ve
watched you during the trial, notebooks in
front of them, pens poised and quivering like
excited hard cocks. Now they’re waiting for
you in the cold afternoon, flashing cameras trying
to swallow you. You wonder if this is how it was
for Elvis or Kurt Cobain. They
all want to know about you, they all
shout your name in the hope that you’ll look
their way. You’re glad you’re not allowed
to be interviewed, because you have no idea what
you’d say. You have no creative bullshit
that is relevant to their interest in you. When
you strangled the boys or beat their heads in,
maybe it was to keep them
from leaving. That’s what you told the shrink.
But you don’t know whether it’s the truth. You
don’t recall what you were thinking when you
killed the first one, or the ones who followed.
When the jury saw pictures of what you did later,
some of them needed counseling. The
prosecution has talked about “evil.”
Others want to “understand” you.
You have nothing to tell them.
You’re thirty-two years old
and you don’t know whether you’re evil.
You don’t know
whether the raven is evil, or just a black bird.
Your dad made a home movie, a
visit to your aunt’s house, the record of
a family reunion. You sprawl
on a chair in your glasses and
lumberjack coat. Your aunt asks how
you’ve been. You say you’ve mostly
been working and living on fast food.
No one can say for sure how many boys
you’ve slaughtered by then. When you’re
arrested a few months later, the figure
will be seventeen. In a little less than three
years you’ll be battered to death by
another prisoner. None of this is in
your dad’s home movie. Or maybe all of it is.